Hand over patient’s case with ‘regard and care’

  • Posted on: September 01, 2022

The patient experienced pain in her left hand. Initially she thought it would subside in a day or two but it didn’t. She consulted an orthopaedic doctor who diagnosed it as De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

An operation was performed but it did not alleviate patient’s suffering. The pain persisted even after several post-operative consultations. She consulted another doctor who performed a surgery. Thankfully, the patient recovered but she sued the first doctor.

Her main allegation was that the doctor did not do much post-operatively to lessen the pain in wrist.

The doctor simply stated that proper care and treatment was provided.

This matter was sent to an expert committee for an opinion.

Citing medical literature, the Commission observed that the exact cause De Quervain’s tenosynovitis was not known and any activity that relies on repetitive hand or wrist movement – such as working in the garden, playing golf, racket sports or even lifting a baby can make it worse.

The Commission also perused medical records and expert committee’s opinion, observing that the doctor had handed over patient’s case to his subordinate who completely disregarded her complain of post-operative pain. It was further observed that there was no mention in medical records whether pain persisted or not on the day stitches were removed.

The Commission held the orthopaedic doctor negligent, observing that his subordinate doctor was not “regardful and caring towards patient’s complaint of persistent pain”.

An important lesson for doctors handing over patient care to their junior / subordinate doctors – they’d still be responsible for patient safety and treatment.

Source: Order pronounced by West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 28th December, 2021.